UBC Logo A study conducted in June revealed that Parkinson’s disease seems to increase melanoma risk. Now, scientists from the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute have seemingly unfolded a gene playing a major role in this disease.

Amidst multitude of nucleotides in DNA, a single spelling mistake seems to kickstart a system for transforming a cell’s genetic encryption into proteins. The mutation, EIF4GI was apparently found in a family from Northern France that is known to have high incidences of this condition.

Matthew Farrer, a professor in the Dept. of Medical Genetics and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Neurogenetics and Translational Neuroscience at UBC, remarked, “Translating a gene into a protein is such a fundamental process to the life of a cell. I thought it would be unlikely to lead to this form of Parkinson’s, which appears later in an individual’s life, and affects only a small subset of brain cells.”

However, the team felt that this specific protein translation looks essential only when the cell encounters some sort of stress such as less oxygen. Furthermore, the protein presumably controls the cell’s capacity to reuse its own constituents. This is one of the critical links of Parkinson’s disease as the existence of sets of eliminated proteins that get caught in some brain cells also known as Lewy bodies is its highlight.

According to Farrer, this revelation essentially shows that Parkinson’s disease may be due to gene-environmental interactions. The consequent damage outlines neuronal recycling mechanisms as a focal point in the process of creating effective therapies.

The findings are published in The American Journal of Human Genetics.